2018 – The International Year Of The Reef

Source: The TerraMar Project/IYOR

Photo: IYOR/Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands


2018 has been designated the third International Year of the Reef (IYOR) by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). This year-long celebration is a great opportunity to come together to strengthen awareness on the plight of coral reefs, and to step up and initiate conservation efforts.

To date, over 100 events have taken place around the world in support of the IYOR and many countries including Japan, Germany, Seychelles, Philippines, the UK and Trinidad & Tobago have declared their support with official launches and awareness raising events. Individuals, schools, charities and businesses are also getting involved by organising beach cleans, reef photography exhibits and educational community outreach days.

School children have put their passion for reefs on paper and designed stamps and beautiful pieces of artwork inspired by the International Year of the Reef. This year ICRI teamed up with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation for their annual Science Without Borders® Challenge. Their theme for the IYOR was “Why coral reefs matter”, which saw over 600 entries from 38 different countries! The top three entries from the High School and Middle School categories will be on display at coral reef events around the world in the coming months – watch this space! Read more about the contest and see the finalists here.

International Year of the Reef

Living Oceans Foundation Science Without Boarders Challenge, high school winners

Also in celebration of the IYOR, the British Government challenged children aged 4 – 17 to design official stamps for the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Once again, hundreds of entries were received from around the world on the theme ‘Why are coral reefs and oceans important?’. Four winners were selected, one from each of the four age categories – all of which can be seen here, and may be on an envelope coming through your letterbox soon!

International Year of the Reef

British Indian Ocean Territory stamp competition winners

Green Fins, initiated by United Nations Environment and coordinated by the Reef World Foundation, has jumped in with both feet to support the International Year of the Reef with a busy schedule of events and side campaigns. Their #redefinethereef infographic encourages and educates SCUBA divers to be environmentally aware and have zero-impact dives. They have reached thousands across social media and through their Green Fins-certified dive centres. Did you know the average SCUBA diver makes contact with the reef an average of 6 times per dive?! – check out the full infographic here!

Guam, a U.S. territory in the Western Pacific, officially launched IYOR back in February and formed “Guam Year of the Reef”. They have since been busy involving the local community in outreach events, educating the tourism sector in coral conservation and have also produced their own range of IYOR ‘swag’ including t-shirts, hats, and reusable shopping bags! Read more about their IYOR efforts here.

Our partners at The Ocean Agency have recently been out on an IYOR expedition in the Coral Triangle, discovering how marine scientists are using underwater scooters, 360O cameras and artificial intelligence to survey miles of coral reefs and identify corals on thousands of images. They’ve been finding reefs in Indonesia which have bounced back from bleaching events and are flourishing, leading to a little #oceanoptimism!

International Year of the Reef

Manado IYOR expedition, image credit: The Ocean Agency

Many events are still to come in the remaining few months of the 2018 International Year of the Reef. A small sample includes; mass beach cleans during the International Coastal Clean-up day on 22nd September, the 71st Gulf & Caribbean Fisheries Institute Conference with a session dedicated to all things “IYOR” and multiple community levels events. Check out our IYOR calendar here for events which might be taking place near you, and sign up to our IYOR newsletter to keep up to date!

Want to get involved?

Head to the International Year of the Reef article on the Take Local Action page to explore ways to get involved and do your bit for coral reefs this year. Whether you live near the coast, spend time on the ocean, or are based in a landlocked city, there are many ways to get involved, raise awareness and limit our impact on the oceans.

The IYOR website (www.iyor2018.org) is the central hub of all activities and events taking place around the world in support of the IYOR. Here you’ll find a wide variety of freely-available resources for use at your IYOR event including our logos, infographics and beautiful imagery from The Ocean Agency.

Have an event you would like to be featured? Submit it here.

Have reef-related news you would like to share? Submit it here.

Stay up to date with all the latest IYOR news by signing up to our bi-monthly newsletter here.

Social media

Twitter: @iyor2018 #iyor2018

Facebook: www.facebook.com/iyor18

Kirsty Richards, ICRI International Year of the Reef Coordinator, [email protected]